Views & Reviews Personal view

Assegais are not enough

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 24 May 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:1114
  1. Ian Banks, part time general practitioner, Northern Ireland, and BMA Council member
  1. ian{at}

    Rationing and priority setting are not the same thing

    When it comes to dividing up the national health cake, there are some who would have it and eat it. The BMA has just produced “A Rational Way Forward for the NHS in England,” its response to a motion at its annual representative meeting calling on the BMA Council to address creeping NHS fragmentation and privatisation. It might not be the definitive document stopping a Bevan rotating in his grave but it at least addressed the difference between rationing and priority setting. These two words are routinely used interchangeably, despite meaning the opposite of each other. On BBC Radio 4 the two terms are used in the same breath, unfortunately by those who are supposedly protecting the NHS.

    It's more than just words or clever semantics. Getting the distinction right is crucial to the debate over the NHS's future and for that matter the BMA …

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